Late last week we heard that The Ontario AIDS Network Board of Directors announced the 2017 Honour Roll Award Recipients. They are:
. Adrian Betts and Christian Hui, The Person with HIV/AIDS Leadership Award
. Anthony Mohamed and Maureen Owino, The Caring Hands Award
. Richard Elliott and Ryan Peck, Social Justice in HIV/AIDS Award
Here’s why we are excited. Last year we and others were fiercely critical of the OAN for not recognizing any person living with HIV – there are many who would qualify – for the 2016 HIV/AIDS Leadership Award. They later claimed the fault was with member agencies who failed to nominate any candidates. That explanation disappointed on several levels.
No disappointments this year though. The OAN has bounced back with not one but an unprecedented two worthy winners in the HIV/AIDS Leadership Awards category. I know them both well.
Adrian Betts is the salt-of the earth Executive Director of the AIDS Committee of Durham Region. He is a member of OACHA - Ontario Advisory Committee on HIV/AIDS - the influential quasi-government body responsible for formulating the provincial AIDS Strategy. He was an early adopter of the U=U campaign. I’ve seen how he fosters peer engagement, notably at the Canadian AIDS Society’s annual forums, where he has made possible inclusion of youth in particular. He’s well liked in the community, for good reason.
Christian Hui is the second worthy award winner. Christian is well known as one of the founding voices, now co-chair, behind the CPPN. He’s a passionate advocate for people living with HIV, whether in the Toronto Asian community or more globally, in his capacity as one of the civil society PLHIV representatives of the Canadian Delegation at the UN High Level Meeting in 2016. He has a fascinating personal story too; you can read about it in this CATIE feature article. The award comes after a challenging year for Christian in shepherding the CPPN through some very difficult challenges that PositiveLIte.com has reported on but the future is bright and Christian deserves this award more than almost anyone I can think of.
Honourees in the other categories this year are equally stellar. Anthony Mohamed and Maureen Owino are both solid choices. And why Richard Elliott and Ryan Peck have not been honoured before is a mystery. They are both heroes of the movement.
Kudos to the OAN board too for picking a great location for the awards. Ripley’s Aquarium, Toronto is quite something – I was blown away by the awesome shark exhibit a year or so ago – and people will have a chance to explore this and more on the night of November 15 at 7pm. Get your tickets here.